At parties, I usually just stick by My Man. I prefer intimate get-togethers, without the hassle of guests I don't know and the inevitable, "so, crazy weather we're having, eh?" Weddings are an absolute nightmare.
But Brazilians are Kings of the Small Talk realm, and I've gotten quite good at it. I can now talk anything from religion to politics for at least five minutes without offending anyone. Quite a talent, if I do say so myself.
Yet despite my newly found gift, my loathing of all things chit chat as only grown. Because it's the SAME FREAKING CONVERSATION EVERY TIME:
- Oh, wow, you're AMERICAN?
- Do you speak English?
- Was it hard to learn Portuguese?
- English is harder to learn, huh?
- Do your kids speak?
- You like Brazil better than the State, huh?
- Are you glad Bush is gone?
If you've been around a while, you know that I've
complained written about this before. But I can't help it. I cannot go out in public without answering the same questions.
Yes, yes, yes, no, yes, can't-answer-that-question, surewhatever.
It's gotten to the point that I avoid going to public places. As soon as the question of my nationality comes up, all feelings of good will toward my fellow man dry up instantaneously. I become a clam, determined to get the heck out of there as soon as possible. Or I convienently forget Portuguese.
So I was particularly impressed with my little brother this past week. (He left yesterday.) He grinned and nodded with the best of them, introducing himself and being introduced to people who hadn't a clue what he was saying. He even agreed to host a Priest/Laurel party at our house last Friday night (girls and boys ages 16 and 17 from our church.) Despite being unable to communicate, he was the life of the party - teaching us THE most hilarious games and even doing an unforgettable Michael Jackson impression. He will go down in history as The Coolest American Ever.
And it occurs to me that small talk and first impressions are almost entirely non-verbal. It is all in how the person holds his mouth, his hands ... body language, people.
And that's not a language I'm very fluent in, I guess.